News

First Impressions Of NAMM 2011: Day One

By Andy Doerschuk
Published January 14, 2011

(Left) The amazing JoJo Mayer demonstrates the new Omni cymbal, which he helped design for Sabian

While sprinting from one booth stuffed with sumptuous new gear to another, I did manage to spot some trends emerging at the 2011 Winter NAMM Show. First of all, after what I would consider to be a typically slow Thursday morning start, the aisles began slowing down to a crawl around noon as more and more attendees streamed into the humongous Anaheim Convention Center. The big turnout could be a portent of good things to come for the musical instrument market, which – like virtually every other industry – desperately needs to see some growth.

We noticed a shuffling of locations at the show, with GMS moving to a much smaller booth, and Modern Drummer’s booth cozying up right next to ours (they love copying us!). Zildjian gobbled up the booth previously held by GMS to dedicate the real estate exclusively to the launch of its Gen 16 line.

Which brings up yet another trend: the ongoing expansion of the electronic percussion market, with companies like Zildjian and Aquarian launching products that step beyond their reputations for producing acoustic instruments. While we haven’t yet gotten a Zildjian booth tour, the word is already out about the company’s library of cymbals sounds and its corresponding bronze cymbal trigger that looks and feels like the real thing. Aquarian, on the other hand, has partnered with Mario DiCutis to develop a batter head that features an internal trigger. I got a brief demo and was blown away by its exact sensitivity.

Two brand new drum companies – Natal and Crush – made explosive splashes on day one with enormous exhibits packed with multiple drum set lines and hardware. These guys came out of left field with a huge commitment at a time when many other companies continue to show reluctance about trying to expand too quickly in the ongoing recession.

By a long shot, the goofiest moment yesterday was when Chad Smith unexpectedly crashed the otherwise staid Sabian press conference dressed like a priest (complete with collar and requisite baseball cap). The reason for his unusual get-up was the launch of a new cymbal line – the Holy China (which is defined by a series of holes punched into the bronze). We got a hilarious video interview with Chad, which will eventually go online. But for now – I have to get back to the show! Expect a bunch of new info later tonight.

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